The French Presidential Elections: How Lebanon Voted

The results of the French presidential elections have been revealed. François Hollande, sadly, barely edged out Nicolas Sarkozy with 51.62% of the votes.

In the first round of the vote, Lebanese-French gave Nicolas Sarkozy an edge over Hollande with more than 55% of the vote. You can check out the numbers for the first round here.

For the second round, the difference is even more drastic. But there’s something telling about the results.

 

Nicolas Sarkozy won in every single voting station in Lebanon, apart from two in West Beirut, one in Tripoli and one in Saida.

Don’t call me sectarian for this but the stereotypes about who’s voting for who are apparently true. And it is an interesting observation, nonetheless. Lebanese Christians, based on the predominantly Christian areas of East Beirut and Jounieh, overwhelmingly voted for Sarkozy, while Lebanese Muslims (Saida, Tripoli & West Beirut) favored Hollande.

The discrepancy is, I suppose, based on both candidate’s differing views to immigration. I would assume Lebanese-French Muslims believe a France under Hollande would make things easier for their families here. I guess people can dream.

Either way, an overwhelming majority from Lebanese-French to Sarkozy. And Lebanon sides with the Right. Again.

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Nicolas Sarkozy & Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaigns – Who’s Copying Who?

If you’ve been following the French presidential elections closely, you’d have noticed the Sarkozy camp has been sharing attractive-looking infographics of his achievements while in office. Here are a few examples:

Well, you get the idea.

Recently, I saw on Barack Obama’s twitter account a very similar infographic released as well:

The resemblance between Sarkozy and Obama’s posters is uncanny: the colors, the style, the font size, etc….

The first Sarkozy image of the sort was shared on April 17th. The one by Obama was released on April 28th. I would be more inclined to believe the Obama campaign is taking a few hints from the Sarkozy camp, seeing as the latter’s campaign is wrapping up with the final round of elections set for next week.

With the American elections set for November, I’m sure we’ll see much more posters like these from the campaign office of Mr. Obama.

 

 

The French Presidential Elections – Round One: How Lebanon Voted

As expected, both Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande advanced to the second round of the French presidential elections to be held on May 6th.

According to official results, Sarkozy got 26.1% of the votes while Hollande got 29%. The current polls show the Socialist Hollande leading Sakozy 54% to 46% for the second round. The shock of the night, however, was a huge score by the woman of the French “Front National” Marine Le Pen who managed to break the two-party dichotomy of France by getting 18% of the votes, according to the latest results.

Her score will come as a headache for the socialists who are deciding to round cloud nine up until May 6th. If Le Pen endorses Sarkozy, all bets are off.

But political analysis aside, here’s how the situation was in Lebanon yesterday. 15000 French people are registered to vote in Lebanon, out of which 51.5% voted. On top of the French residing in Lebanon, 1600 French residing in Syria are eligible to vote in Lebanon due to the situation in their country. Out of those, only 28% cast their ballots.

As a reminder, in 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy got 51.5% in the first round in Lebanon. This time, however, he got 54.47%, beating Hollande who only got 19.81%.

On the other hand, Marine Le Pen got 9% among French-Lebanese voters, almost double what her father managed in 2007 in Lebanon but still less than the result she got in France.

All foreign territoires put together have Sarkozy ahead of Hollande at 38% to 28.31%. Marine Le Pen came in fourth with 5.34%. The total participation in Lebanon is above the average for French expats, which settled at 40%.

Altogether, here’s yet another elections where Lebanese voters who hold a second nationality go with a right wing candidate.

The French Presidential Elections – Round One

Over 45 million eligible French people are heading to cast their ballots in the first round of their presidential elections today, of which no one is expected to take the absolute majority of votes needed to win and not head to a second round between the top 2 vote getters.

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande are neck and neck in the most recent published polls and both are expected to qualify to the second round.

In Lebanon, the registered French people residing in Lebanon are around 13,000. Of those, more than 7000 are expected to vote, in similar numbers to 2007 where 51.7% voted for Sarkozy in the first round and 71.5% in the second round.

Many more Lebanese-French who reside in France are also eligible to vote. The 2007 numbers from those Lebanese show a drastic preference to Sarkozy as well.

A fraction of Lebanese voters also support far right candidate Le Pen.

(source)

For the French residing in Lebanon, have you voted? Or are you waiting for the more decisive second round to cast your ballot?

Midnight in Paris – Movie Review

Presenting Woody Allen’s latest cinematic offering, Midnight in Paris is magical – be it in its plot or its effect on you as a viewer.

The moment the movie starts, you know you’re in for a ride. Flashing scenes from the breathtaking French capital, from Versailles to its rooftops. From the Louvres to les Champs-Élyséesit’s all there, to a backdrop of true Parisian music. That opening scene sets the tone of the movie: this is a feature from Paris, to Paris, about Paris. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a highly successful Hollywood screenwriter on a vacation with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Paris. Despite his job being very lucrative, Gil doesn’t feel satisfied. He is trying to write a novel about a man who works at a nostalgia shop and has no idea why he can’t truly connect with what he’s writing. He feels out of place in the the world of 2010. His dream world is a rainy 1920’s Paris. Inez disagrees.

On one fateful night, as a Parisian clock strikes midnight, a slightly drunk Gil hops in an old-fashioned peugeot that takes him to meet people he had never thought he’d meet: Scott F. Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Parker, etc… He sits with these giants of his favorite epoque and discusses with them his life, his hopes, his fears. He also meets Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) who gives him some valuable advice about his novel. And while in her study, he looks at Pablo Picasso painting his mistress Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

A relationship soon develops between Adriana and Gil, as he “time travels” to see all of his idols night after night, all after the clock chiming midnight.

Owen Wilson delivers a credible performance as an aspiring novelist, trying to find who he is in the world. His performance is nuanced, especially when he comes off as goofy as he admires his idols of the past. He embodies the Woody Allen-persona to a great extent, as it is the case with most Woody Allen movies that the protagonist is an extension of himself.

But the person that shines the most in this movie is – naturally – Marion Cotillard. Whenever she’s on screen, she steals the scene. It could be her splendid beauty, but I’m sure it’s more her superb acting that doesn’t come off as acting at all. She’s oozing sultriness while staying grounded. She radiates sexuality but manages to be conserved. Just place Cotillard in her natural French element and she’ll give you a tour-de-force breath-taking performance. In a way, she knows how great she is. But she doesn’t dwell on it. She knows she’s stealing every second she is on screen, but she doesn’t let it get to her head, similarly to the city Woody Allen chose to center his movie around.

Other interesting appearances in the movie are made by Carla Bruni, current French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, as a museum curator whom Gil asks: “Do you think it’s possible to love two women at the same time?,” and while Woody Allen has recurrent elements to his movies about infidelity, gorgeous women, etc… his treatment of those themes in “Midnight in Paris” comes off as fresh and sweet, probably helped by the backdrop he uses.

Gad Elmaleh, infamous Moroccan-French comedian, makes a brief appearance as a private detector hired by Inez’s father to check on Gil and his midnight Parisian wanderings.

And out of all the performances by the first rate actors and actresses, it’s Rachel McAdams that comes out short, simply because she has the most underdeveloped character out of the bunch. McAdams gives her best to bring life to her character but to no avail, as Inez ultimately comes off as materialistic.

At the end of the day, “Midnight in Paris” is Paris. It bewitches you, enthralls you, takes you on a magical journey you will not forget. It’s not set in stone, like most of Woody Allen’s movies. Its ending is not resolved, it’s left to be discovered… the purpose of the movie is not to provide answers, as much as to give a general perspective. The movie does give the viewer one message though: live your life fully in your time – there will always be times you think are better. But your time is now.